New Filing Fires Back at Trump Administration Request to Move Forward with Trans Military Ban
April 26, 2018
RIVERSIDE, Calif.—The National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) and GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) filed their opposition last night to a Trump-Pence Administration request to dissolve the nationwide preliminary injunction that U.S. District Court Judge Jesus G. Bernal issued December 22, 2017, in Equality California’s lawsuit, Stockman v. Trump. There are currently four separate preliminary injunctions issued by four separate federal courts, blocking Trump’s ban from moving forward while the cases are being heard by the courts.
On March 23, the Trump administration filed a motion to dissolve the injunction, claiming to issue a “new policy” on transgender military service. However, as NCLR and GLAD demonstrate in the opposition filing, that policy merely details the steps the military plans to take to implement the ban that Judge Bernal and three other federal court judges have already blocked from taking effect.
“There’s nothing new here,” said Jennifer Levi, GLAD Transgender Rights Project Director. “The supposedly ‘new policy’ excludes transgender people from military service. It is the same ban the courts have already enjoined.”
“There is no justification for a special rule banning transgender people from military service rather than permitting them to serve on the same terms as everyone else,” said Shannon Minter, NCLR Legal Director. “Transgender troops have already been serving their country with honor and dignity for decades.”
“No matter what the White House calls it, this is the same unpatriotic and discriminatory ban that four federal courts have already blocked from moving forward,” said Equality California Executive Director Rick Zbur. “At a time when our nation faces serious threats around the world, it’s baffling that President Trump remains focused on undermining our military by ripping thousands of distinguished service members from their posts.”
”Transgender Americans are guaranteed the same right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as any other American,” said California Attorney General Xavier Becerra. “We owe transgender service members, like all Americans who courageously serve our nation, our support and gratitude for putting their lives on the line. President Trump’s transgender military service ban is primitive. It is discriminatory, plain and simple. We will fight it in every form.”
President Trump first announced his transgender military ban in a series of tweets in July 2017. Then in an August 25 memo, he directed the Secretary of Defense to create an implementation plan for his ban. In addition to Judge Bernal, three other federal district court judges have issued injunctions halting the ban, including in NCLR and GLAD’s DC-based case, Doe v. Trump. In each of the four cases, the courts have found that the plaintiffs are likely to succeed on their claim that excluding transgender people from military service violates their guarantee of equal protection under the US Constitution. Earlier this month, Judge Marsha J. Pechman in the Washington state case Karnoski v. Trump, brought by Lambda Legal and Outserv-SLDN, denied the Trump administration’s request to lift that court’s injunction and ordered Karnoski to proceed to discovery and trial.
Top medical organizations and experts have refuted recent Trump administration attempts to justify its ban on transgender military service, including former Surgeons General, the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association and the American Psychiatric Association.
Senior military officials from all service branches have also confirmed that permitting transgender people to serve strengthens the force.
Stockman v. Trump was brought by Equality California on September 5, 2017, on behalf of the organization’s members as well as individual plaintiffs Aiden Stockman, Nicolas Talbott, Tamesyn Reeves, Jaquice Tate and three unnamed current service members. Attorney General Xavier Becerra intervened as a plaintiff on behalf of the State of California in November 2017.
In addition to NCLR and GLAD, plaintiffs in Stockman are represented by Latham & Watkins LLP.